Of ‘Network’ & The #Novel I’m #Writing #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

The thing about the film Network is it’s both timely and timeless. It pretty much sums up how America was feeling at the time it was produced. It’s set in simply “the now.” As such, that’s what it makes it a timeless work of art.

I find myself thinking about Network a lot as I develop and write this novel because while I strive to write something as good as it, I realize there are some notable differences. My novel is set in a specific time and place. It’s meant to wallow in some of the major controversies of the Trump Era. But, hopefully, it won’t come off as preachy like Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart.” It’s meant to be a fast, easy, pulpy read that keeps you up for two nights you’re so eager to finish up.

That’s the dream. That’s the goal.

But to achieve that, I have a huge amount of reading to do. My writing is only mediocre on a good day, so, lulz. And, yet, I’m really throwing my heart into this novel so, if nothing else, it will be well thought out and articulated. I really have a commitment to the conceit, if nothing else.

The theory is, if I believe in this story, you, the reader, will, too.

I have thought out to an extreme level the different parts of the canon to such an extent that I’ve got a Star Wars-sized universe to play with. But, let me note, this is all in my head. I have done a lot of writing as part of development, but some pretty basic things — like formal character studies — I have yet to get around to doing. I may do that between finishing the first draft and starting the second draft.

I’m really looking forward to jumping into “Part 2” of the novel. I have a huge amount of work to do to get it to where it needs to be, however. It’ll never be as good as Network, but that movie definitely is influencing my ultimate vision for the novel.

Of #TrumpTaxes & The Allegorical Thriller About The Trump Era I’m Writing #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

It’s hard to properly convey how much rage I feel towards the Trump Administration these days. With the punt on the part of SCOTUS in regards to Trump’s taxes, it seem pretty obvious that Trump is going to cruise into a stolen second term.

On the bright side, now I can throw my heart into the novel I’m writing which is meant to be one epic rant about the surreal excesses of the Trump Era. I’m a man of peace, a man of ideas but I also feel extremely powerless to do anything about Trump. So, all I can do is use my native storytelling ability to hopefully get people thinking about what a fucking monsters Trump and his enablers are. The goal is for that rant to be so diffused, however, that it won’t be preachy. It is designed, however, from the ground up to be able to lay out an indictment of extremism on both sides of the political spectrum.

The story is set in the immediate past, right before the pandemic. The second book is likely going to end just about the moment in early 2020 when it became clear that COVID19 was about to strike the United States. I also, for what its worth, do some down low ranting about people being oblivious to global climate change for good measure.

Anyway, as I have said before, I hope to have something of a personal writer’s retreat this weekend. I need some time to just stare out into space, recharge my batteries and maybe drink and read a lot.

I’ve come up with a very unique way to rant about the Trump Era. All systems are go right now to start writing on the first draft sometime after I get back from my writer’s retreat. I still have a huge amount of reading to do. So much reading. But it’s worth it.

Having a novel to develop and write distracts me from being enraged over how Trump and his minions are turning the nation I love into a managed democracy like Russia.


Edging Closer To Wrapping Up Development On The First Draft Outline

by Shelt Garner

I talked to a FBI PR person today and it was a lot — a LOT — of help. He really opened my eyes to some things I was totally missing when it came to the actual meat-and-bones of why you would read a story like this: the actual investigation.

He didn’t like it much when I mentioned The Company, even in fiction. That was a tense, awkward moment in an otherwise very pleasant and informative hour-long conversation. Talk about power. The Company is a very, very powerful organization within the Federal government.

Anyway, even The Company would likely get a kick out of how I’m portraying they and the NSA in this story. I’ve come up with something that resembles a Donald Trump waking nightmare after he’s had one too many Diet Cokes before bedtime after having watched the latest James Bond movie. This whole thing is meant to be rather pulpy and with a dab of magical realism to it than anything else. Or, put another way, you might see it as a Coen Brothers interpretation of Stieg Larsson, if you will.

So the next few days I’m going to plunge into the outline I’m working on. Hopefully, I will finally wrap it up by just after the July 4th weekend. I really need to root around the story on a structural level to make it clearer some of the aspects of the investigation and where things stand when the FBI character appears at the midpoint of the plot.

Wish me luck, I guess.

It’s The Title of Jessica Alba’s Netflix Vehicle ‘Trigger Warning’ That Is Making Me Nervous

by Shelt Garner

The novel I’m developing is very personal. It’s also very much something of my autobiography in a gauzy, fictional form. But Jessica Alba — the Taylor Swift of major Latina movie stars — has a project with Netflix in development that’s really making me nervous.

It’s called Trigger Warning and when I heard the title my heart sank. It would be very easy for it to be essentially the novel I’m writing. In fact, Trigger Warning is one of several discarded titles I’ve mulled for the novel over the last two years.

But the once I learned what few details I could about Alba’s project, it just doesn’t seem I have THAT much to worry about. Yes, the two projects are similar in some respects, but I THINK that has more to do with simple form follows function than anything else.

And, yet, as I’ve said, should something happen, I’ve developed this novel far enough that I can pretty easily use the characters I’ve come up with for a different plot.

I hope it doesn’t come to that, but who knows. Stranger things have happened.

Sometimes, you just have to believe in yourself.

May Actually Overshoot My Goal With This Novel

by Shelt Garner

The novel I’m developing is turning out to be be really, really good — at least in my eyes. Yes, there’s that Jessica Alba vehicle Trigger Warning lurking out there, but the more I think about it, it seems any resemblance between it and what I’m working on comes more from where my head is as I develop my novel than anything else. Or something.

I guess, in a sense, all that is first child jitters. Though I will admit that now that I finally have the hang of writing a novel, I’m likely to just keep writing them no matter what. All I want is to write a novel where someone who doesn’t know me reads it and asks, “So what happens next?”

The novel I’m developing definitely has franchise written all over it. Though, if I did manage to sell the first two books, I would go back in time and write two prequels. Those two stories are pretty well thought out in my mind and would be pretty easy to write given how much I had to think them to through to write the novels I’m working on now.

But a lot of all of this comes from simply not only not knowing what I’m doing, but not having anyone to tell me “no.” Or, put another way, if I had, like, friends and stuff — or maybe a wife or girlfriend — it’s unlikely I would have gotten this far with this project because everyone would have gotten so frustrated with me that they would have finally successfully told me to “just write a short story.”

Fuck such thinking. Fuck short stories. I want to write a novel.

It’s wild how little support I’m getting from anyone about writing a novel. Everyone wants me to write a screenplay or a short story or whatever the fuck else they think I should write. But no one is like, “Hey! You’re writing a novel after talking about writing a novel for years, good for you!”

I can’t help how extroverted I am. That’s just who I am.

This Novel Has No Literary Aspirations

by Shelt Garner

I have a small library of books I want to read as part of the development of this story (one story, two books.) I have so much I want to read — and learn — that I’m a little nervous (but not too much) that I’m going to come out the other side over shooting my goal rather significantly.

It’s all rather amusing. Everyone — EVERYONE — thinks I suck. That’s all I hear about every aspect of anything creative I want to do: you suck. So I have something of a creative chip on my shoulder. But I’m working as hard as I can to at least not embarrass myself.

This novel pretty much wades into every major cultural wedge issue with guns blazing. My vision is to wade into a number of extremely controversial subjects in a way that is at least palatable to people from a wide spectrum of political views. Except MAGA. They can fuck off, those fucking American Nazis.

What I need is an editor. I need someone to help me figure out what’s important if I have two ideas that are of equal value in my mind. But I’m flat broke and pretty much everyone has an agenda if you’re not paying them, so lulz. It’s comical how poor I am at this point in my life and no one is going to help me unless I pay them.

And, from what I can tell, editors are extremely expensive, even to look over a small portion of a work-in-progress.

Anyway, this novel is meant to be a fun, breezy read. That’s it. I want you to be able to pick it up and read it straight through over about three days. I want you to read these two novels so fast you lose sleep, maybe get to work late. That’s my dream, my goal.

I’m nervous that if the novels accidentally get too literary that that aspect will slow down the reading experience some.

But, really, that’s just me daydreaming, pysching myself up.


Screenwriting And Webstat Paranoia

by Shelt Garner

I saw in my Webstats that someone looked at — out of the blue — a post from about two years ago about a screenplay concept I briefly had. This makes me nervous because:

  1. They were from Brooklyn.
  2. They obviously got it as a link (how did the person who send it to them find it?)
  3. Are they going to “steal” that idea?

Some of those are just me being paranoid in general — I have a pretty well developed novel on my hands and even if someone “stole” that concept, it has nothing to do with what I’m working on right now.

I guess I’m more nervous about people being able to poke around my Website without me knowing about it one way or another. But you can’t change the past. You can’t have absolute control over who sees what you post online.

And, given that me talking online is, in itself, part of my development process, lulz.

The ‘Little Green Men’ Have Landed

by Shelt Garner

Ugh. Why am I the only one to notice this:

American Little Green Men
Russian Little Green Men

Of Trumplandia, The American Fourth Reich

by Shelt Garner

Once you reach a certain level of historical momentum, there’s not much you can do. We, sadly, have reached a macro-historical tipping point in regards to America’s new managed democracy. It’s here and there’s no going back.

Trump will win re-election in the fall — it doesn’t matter how — then ICE will be weaponized and I will die in an ICE camp sometime in the next few years.

But, just for fun, let’s daydream about how you might stop this from happening.

Let me stress — I’m a man of peace, a man of ideas. But I do love to run scenarios, so, to me, this is just a scenario.

The only way I could see stopping the rise of the American Fourth Reich at this point is people actually willing to risk their lives to stop it. What’s more likely to happen is they will decide to pledge their “lives and scared honor” only after it’s too late and they have to be a REAL “Resistance” like the French Resistance.

What I might suggest is all these protests are really a protest against Trump. Or, put another way, they could evolve into that if there was any leadership associated with it. But, to date, these protests are simply people venting frustration. If there were, like, actual revolutionaries involved in these protests, then there would be demands that could be drawn up, etc.

But, nada.

Nothing is really going on with these protests other than being a huge political windfall to our tyrant president.

Anyway, all I can say is get out of the country if you love freedom and liberty. Trumplandia is, at last, tragically here

Believe In Yourself — No One Else Will

by Shelt Garner

The thing about someone like Crooked Media’s Erin Ryan is I can mean as well as much as I want — she simply will never accept me for who I am. I’m always going to be a middle-aged loser who is a member of the patriarchy. I only mention this because, well, I’m going to draw upon what I know about her to think up my novel’s female romantic lead.

I am honestly rather indifferent to Ms. Ryan one way or another — live long and prosper, lady. It’s just a little annoying that I can paint the most pleasant picture of her I want via my female romantic lead and she will never, ever return the favor for any reason. It would be bad for her “image” to simply give me an empathetic assessment should some reason arise.

Anyway, I believe in myself when it comes to this novel. I try to bend over backwards to be as empathetic to wide-range of types of people. I want to be as representative as I can possibly be. In fact, I’m a big believer in representation in art. But, again, lulz, nothing matters. I’m a loser to people like Ms. Ryan. I’m not perfect and I’m not some sort of ideal feminist ally. All I can do is try to write something entertaining and see what happens.

Though I will note that pretty much this entire novel gets its energy from my white-hot rage against MAGA. I fucking hate MAGA with a white hot rage. Since I’m a man of peace, a man of ideas, all I got is a novel. All my venting about MAGA is diffused to such an extent in this novel that hopefully you’ll see my hatred of MAGA is more about my hatred of extremism than anything else.

I don’t mean to whine, but the whole thing can grow frustrating. I can’t help who I am. I can’t help my age. I can’t help my background. I can just try to write the best novel I can and see what happens.